Chapter 19




When De la Foret and Angele saw the Queen again it was in the royal
chapel.

Perhaps the longest five minutes of M. de la Foret's life were those in
which he waited the coming of the Queen on that Trinity Sunday which was
to decide his fate. When he saw Elizabeth enter the chapel his eyes swam,
till the sight of them was lost in the blur of colour made by the motions
of gorgeously apparelled courtiers and the people of the household. When
the Queen had taken her seat and all was quiet, he struggled with himself
to put on such a front of simple boldness as he would wear upon day of
battle. The sword the Queen had given him was at his side, and his garb
was still that of a gentleman, not of a Huguenot minister such as
Elizabeth in her grim humour, and to satisfy her bond with France, would
make of him this day.

The brown of his face had paled in the weeks spent in the palace and in
waiting for this hour; anxiety had toned the ruddy vigour of his bearing;
but his figure was the figure of a soldier, and his hand that of a strong
man. He shook a little as he bowed to her Majesty, but that passed, and
when at last his eye met that of the Duke's Daughter he grew steady; for
she gave him as plainly as though her tongue spoke, a message from
Angele. Angele herself he did not see--she was kneeling in an obscure
corner, her father's hand in hers, all the passion of her life pouring
out in prayer.

De la Foret drew himself up with an iron will. No nobler figure of a man
ever essayed to preach the Word, and so Elizabeth thought; and she
repented of the bitter humour which had set this trial as his chance of
life in England and his freedom from the hand of Catherine. The man
bulked larger in her eyes than he had ever done, and she struggled with
herself to keep the vow she had made to the Duke's Daughter the night
that Angele had been found in De la Foret's rooms. He had been the
immediate cause, fated or accidental, of the destined breach between
Leicester and herself; he had played a significant part in her own life.
Glancing at her courtiers, she saw that none might compare with him, the
form and being of calm boldness and courage. She sighed she knew scarce
why.

When De la Foret first opened his mouth and essayed to call the
worshippers to prayer, no words came forth--only a dry whisper. Some
ladies simpered, and more than one courtier laughed silently. Michel saw,
and his face flamed up. But he laid a hand on himself, and a moment
afterwards his voice came forth, clear, musical, and resonant, speaking
simple words, direct and unlacquered sentences, passionately earnest
withal. He stilled the people to a unison of sentiment, none the less
interested and absorbed because it was known that he had been the cause
of the great breach between the Queen and the favourite. Ere he had
spoken far, flippant gallants had ceased to flutter handkerchiefs, to
move their swords idly upon the floor.

He took for his text: "Stand and search for the old paths." The beginning
of all systems of religion, the coming of the Nazarene, the rise and
growth of Christianity, the martyrdoms of the early church, the invasion
of the truth by false doctrine, the abuses of the Church, the
Reformation, the martyrdom of the Huguenots for the return to the early
principles of Christianity, the "search for the old paths," he set forth
in a tone generous but not fiery, presently powerful and searching, yet
not declamatory. At the last he raised the sword that hung by his side,
and the Book that lay before him, and said:

"And what matter which it is we wield--this steel that strikes for God,
or this Book which speaks of Him? For the Book is the sword of the
Spirit, and the sword is the life of humanity; for all faith must be
fought for, and all that is has been won by strife. But the paths wherein
ye go to battle must be the old paths; your sword shall be your staff by
day, and the Book your lantern by night. That which ye love ye shall
teach, and that which ye teach ye shall defend; and if your love be a
true love your teaching shall be a great teaching, and your sword a
strong sword which none may withstand. It shall be the pride of sovereign
and of people; and so neither 'height, nor depth, nor any other creature,
shall be able to separate us from the love of God.'"

Ere he had ended, some of the ladies were overcome, the eyes of the
Duke's Daughter were full of tears, and Elizabeth said audibly, when he
ceased speaking: "On my soul, I have no bishop with a tongue like his.
Would that my Lord of Ely were here to learn how truth should be spoke.
Henceforth my bishops shall first be Camisards."

Of that hour's joyful business the Queen wrote thus to the Medici before
the day was done:

Cancelling all other letters on the matter, this M. de la Foret shall
stay in my kingdom. I may not be the headsman of one of my faith--as
eloquent a preacher as he was a brave soldier. Abiding by the strict
terms of our treaty with my brother of France, he shall stay with us in
peace, and in our own care. He hath not the eloquence of a Knox, but he
hath the true thing in him, and that speaks.

To the Duke's Daughter the Queen said: "On my soul, he shall be married
instantly, or my ladies will carry him off and murder him for love."

And so it was that the heart of Elizabeth the Queen warmed again and
dearly towards two Huguenot exiles, and showed that in doing justice she
also had not so sour a heart towards her sex as was set down to her
credit. Yet she made one further effort to keep De la Foret in her
service. When Michel, once again, declined, dwelt earnestly on his duty
towards the widow of his dead chief, and begged leave to share her exile
in Jersey, Elizabeth said: "On my soul, but I did not think there was any
man on earth so careless of princes' honours!"

To this De la Foret replied that he had given his heart and life to one
cause, and since Montgomery had lost all, even life, the least Michel de
la Foret could do was to see that the woman who loved him be not
unprotected in the world. Also, since he might not at this present fight
for the cause, he could speak for it; and he thanked the Queen of England
for having shown him his duty. All that he desired was to be quiet for a
space somewhere in "her high Majesty's good realm," till his way was
clear to him.

"You would return to Jersey, then, with our friend of Rozel?" Elizabeth
said, with a gesture towards Lempriere, who, now recovered from his
wound, was present at the audience.

De la Foret inclined his head. "If it be your high Majesty's pleasure."

And Lempriere of Rozel said: "He would return with myself your noble
Majesty's friend before all the world, and Buonespoir his ship the
Honeyflower."

Elizabeth's lips parted in a smile, for she was warmed with the luxury of
doing good, and she answered:

"I know not what the end of this will be, whether our loyal Lempriere
will become a pirate or Buonespoir a butler to my Court; but it is too
pretty a hazard to forego in a world of chance. By the rood, but I have
never, since I sat on my father's throne, seen black so white as I have
done this past three months. You shall have your Buonespoir, good Rozel;
but if he plays pirate any more--tell him this from his Queen--upon an
English ship, I will have his head, if I must needs send Drake of Devon
to overhaul him."

That same hour the Queen sent for Angele, and by no leave, save her own,
arranged the wedding-day, and ordained that it should take place at
Southampton, whither the Comtesse de Montgomery had come on her way to
Greenwich to plead for the life of Michel de la Foret, and to beg
Elizabeth to relieve her poverty. Both of which things Elizabeth did, as
the annals of her life record.

After Elizabeth--ever self-willed--had declared her way about the
marriage ceremony, looking for no reply save that of silent obedience,
she made Angele sit at her feet and tell her whole story again from first
to last. They were alone, and Elizabeth showed to this young refugee more
of her own heart than any other woman had ever seen. Not by words alone,
for she made no long story; but once she stooped and kissed Angele upon
the cheek, and once her eyes filled up with tears, and they dropped upon
her lap unheeded. All the devotion shown herself as a woman had come to
naught; and it may be that this thought stirred in her now. She
remembered how Leicester and herself had parted, and how she was denied
all those soft resources of regret which were the right of the meanest
women in her realm. For, whatever she might say to her Parliament and
people, she knew that all was too late--that she would never marry and
that she must go childless and uncomforted to her grave. Years upon years
of delusion of her people, of sacrifice to policy, had at last become a
self-delusion, to which her eyes were not full opened yet--she sought to
shut them tight. But these refugees, coming at the moment of her own
struggle, had changed her heart from an ever-growing bitterness to human
sympathy. When Angele had ended her tale once more, the Queen said:

"God knows, ye shall not linger in my Court. Such lives have no place
here. Get you back to my Isle of Jersey, where ye may live in peace. Here
all is noise, self-seeking and time-service. If ye twain are not happy I
will say the world should never have been made."

Before they left Greenwich Palace--M. Aubert and Angele, De la Foret,
Lempriere, and Buonespoir--the Queen made Michel de la Foret the gift of
a chaplaincy to the Crown. To Monsieur Aubert she gave a small pension,
and in Angele's hands she placed a deed of dower worthy of a generosity
greater than her own.

At Southampton, Michel and Angele were married by royal license, and with
the Comtesse de Montgomery set sail in Buonespoir's boat, the
Honeyflower, which brought them safe to St. Helier's, in the Isle of
Jersey.




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